Visitors in the Workplace
The University of Missouri is a diverse environment of classrooms, offices, and laboratories where many different activities are performed. Visitors to the workplace are generally welcome and in some settings even encouraged. However, appropriate precautions and limitations on visitation are necessary to protect health and safety and to maintain productivity and regulatory compliance.
There are many workplaces where hazardous materials or equipment are located or where hazardous operations are conducted. These include laboratories, shops, farms, animal care facilities and power plants. It is therefore necessary to restrict access to these areas for visitors, especially children and minors. Hazardous areas include but are not limited to any university operation or space where any of the following are present:
- Chemicals or radioactive materials in use or storage
- Biological or infectious hazards
- Live animals
- Construction or renovation activities
- Utility equipment spaces, tunnels, rooftops, mechanical rooms, heavy machinery, high noise levels
- Electrical hazards
- Other areas deemed hazardous by the host department
Visiting adults who are not students or employees (visiting scientists, etc.) who work for more than a week in laboratories or other hazardous areas should receive safety training equivalent to that required for employees in the same environment. Documentation of training received from other employers or institutions may be accepted if approved by the host department and Environmental, Health & Safety Department. The host department is responsible for providing all visitors with specific safety instructions for local conditions and procedures and for providing all necessary personal protective equipment.
Short term visitors (less than a week) to hazardous work places should at a minimum have local safety measures and emergency procedures explained to them and must be provided with personal protective equipment appropriate to the environment being visited. Short term visitors should be escorted and/or supervised by the host department at all times during their visit.
In general, the workplace is not an appropriate place for minor children on a frequent or continuing basis for the following reasons:
- Children in the workplace create a potential liability for the department and the University;
- Children in the workplace disrupt the workplace both for the employee with the child and for others in the work unit,
- Children in the workplace create an atmosphere that may not be conducive to achievement of the unit's specific goals and objectives.
Special occasions that are employer-sanctioned and at which attendance by children is encouraged should be coordinated with and approved by the employee's supervisor. The employee's schedule for that day should take the child's presence into consideration to eliminate potential hazards.
Children may be brought to workplaces by parent employees for brief visits or other times when common sense would dictate that it is more efficient for the employee to bring the child into an office (following or before a physician's appointment, for example). The parent employee must supervise the child(ren) on such visits. It is not appropriate for children of any age to be in the workplace on a regular basis, such as after school each school day or on regularly scheduled school holidays.
In the event of an emergency, and if there are no other alternatives, parent employees may have children present in the workplace for brief periods of time provided the parent secures the immediate supervisor's prior approval. Such arrangements are only to be temporary in nature an may be granted only in circumstances where safety issues (such as stairs ad stairwells, automatically closing doors, open windows, office machines, etc.) have been satisfactorily addressed. Parent employees should not leave such child(ren) in the custody of another University employee, even for brief periods of time. This exception for emergencies is not applicable to hazardous areas.
Minor children are not permitted as regular visitors in any hazardous area as defined above. Short-term visits may be authorized for approved guided tours or other reasons if appropriate precautionary measures are taken and hazards have been fully controlled or removed during the visit. Direct adult supervision of children is required at all times in hazardous areas. Department heads may require additional safety measures prior to such visits and may wish to require written parental consent authorizing the site visit.